I don’t know whether I feel ornery enough to call this a rant, but I’m increasingly disappointed at the selection of hybrids seed companies enter in state university corn silage hybrid trials. I’m speaking primarily of the several national seed companies which for some reason have decided to enter their some state trials but not others. Maybe it’s the cost of entering the trials, perhaps a philosophical decision made “at the top”, or perhaps something else. And maybe there’s a perfectly good reason for it, but the result is that it’s more difficult than ever to compare, for instance, Pioneer’s top-rated hybrids with those of Dekalb as well as the good regional seed companies entering many of these trials. Can the regional companies compete for silage yield and quality? Sure would be good to know! But increasingly some of these trials are dominated by the regional seed companies. For instance, the 2016 Cornell University silage trials include 29 hybrids each in two locations, but only two Mycogen hybrids and none from Pioneer or Dekalb.
It’s true that there’s not a lot of difference in fiber digestibility among conventional corn hybrids but there sure are differences in maturity and dry matter yield. There’s also a fair amount of difference in starch content and therefore in whole plant digestibility. But as it is now much is left to guesswork and the (often fantastic) claims by seed companies. One more reason to work closely with your seed dealer(s), but these folks are better at evaluating their own company’s hybrids than making comparisons between companies. Which should not surprise you in the least.